Story and Pictures by Isabelle Cruz Editor
It was the Summer Olympics of 1976 when Joan Lind competed in Montréal, Québec, Canada, representing not only the United States, but the legacy of Long Beach State, in the sport of Rowing.
It’s crazy to think that one day you could go from being involved in a school sport to competing in the Olympics. You could be that person or you could be the person looking to be involved, make some friends and work out, all at the same time. Rowing might be the sport for you!
You might be asking yourself, “What is rowing?” Rowing is the sport of propelling a boat using a fixed oar as a lever, usually done with a team of eight or nine, including the coxswain, or guide, of the boat. There are two types of races, one called sculling, which involves using two oars per person, and sweep, which only uses one oar per person.
In 1957, Bill Lockyer and Ludwig Spolyar founded one of LBSU’s first club: Long Beach State Rowing, also known as Beach Crew.
You might be asking yourself, "What is rowing?"
Today, Beach Crew consists of a men’s and women’s team, both with a novice and varsity team. This semester’s team is led by rowing club presidents Megan DeVore and Ehab Elrashidy. The men’s team is coached by Sean McCrea, Anthony “AC” Chacon and Dylan Widjaja, while the women’s team is headed by Cristina Felix and Jaqueline Van Andel.
All sports involve commitment and dedication, but the sport of rowing is known for being particularly intense. And you don’t have to be a pro going into this. You can learn it all as a part of Beach Crew!
Rowers at LBSU train and race in teams of eight, however it is not only limited to eight. Oftentimes, teams of four can form to make a separate entity.
As for the type of rowing, they primarily focus on the fast and highly aerobic sweep rowing. They train at least 15 to 20 kilometers a day, working up to the elite standard of about 30k. On top of that, they work on their strokes per minute, shooting for 28-30 in the fall and then 32-38 by spring. All of this strength is built over time and taught to those who have never rowed. According to Coach Widjaja, typical training is done both on land and in water. Workouts on land involve using an ergometer and a rowing machine and cross-training with weights and cardio. Workouts in water involve going out on the boat and rowing. Some may think rowing is all about your arms, but it’s more about your legs and back. When you row, the seat leans back as you propel your legs.
Eighty percent of your muscles are used in this sport including your quads, hamstrings, glutes, lats, core, shoulders, triceps, erector spinae and biceps.
Brittney Denbesten, who’s rowed for two years now, says the team aspect of rowing has made the most impact on her experience.
The team is diverse and at practices, members stick by each other so they are never separated from each other until races.
“You don’t need experience to join and when you do join you take on mental and physical challenges like staying on track and focusing on schoolwork,” said Denbesten.
Some enjoy the experience of character-building.
“Being able to wake up at 5:30 in the morning every day is kind of hard and turns people into more strong-willed people,” said Elrashidy, rowing president for the men’s team and third-year rower.
Meanwhile, others enjoy the experience of making connections.
“You make some lifelong friends and its most definitely a foot in the door for a career,” said Megan DeVore, the rowing president for the women’s team and fourth-year rower.
“People who know that you’ve rowed and are familiar with the sport realize how much work it takes.”
Rower Amber Ottosen supports this, characterizing the team as a tight-knit community of involved students.
However, like most sports on campus, fees are involved.
For novice rowers, payment for a year is $1200; for a semester it’s $650 and in monthly installments it’s $109 per month. For novice coxswains, payment for a year is $650, for a semester, $350, and monthly, $59.
For varsity rowers, payment for a year is $1300, for a semester it’s $700, and monthly it is $117. For varsity coxswains, payment for a year is $750, for a semester it’s $400, and monthly it is $67.
That being said, there are ways around this. The team has fundraisers and scholarships to lower costs, along with alumni willing to sponsor you if you are dedicated enough with rowing and school.
The costs include access to training, equipment and coaches. Additionally, the uniform and travel cost varies depending on which races you choose to be involved in.
Practices are Monday through Friday from 5:30 a.m. to 7:30 a.m. at Pete Archer Rowing Center in Long Beach.
The legacy with rowing is immense. Try out and give rowing a shot! No experience is needed.
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